Avoid The Free Lunch – The Negotiator’s Blindside

Avoid The Free Lunch – The Negotiator’s Blindside - BillLentis.com
It is often remarked that what is free has strings attached to it. We cannot see at the time because we are so overwhelmed by the feeling of getting one over on the other person for offering something for free. It is only later on that we discover our grievous error that we lament over what we got for free. We have all been there at some point, whether it was getting a freebie when we bought a gadget or something else. At first glance, it would appear that we got a really good deal. When we took that item home and tried it out, it fell apart irreparably. That euphoric feeling is displaced by something else.

In negotiations, there are a lot of games that take place. We might not like them, preferring to go straight to the point and getting what both parties want. But what is the fun in that, right? Well part of the game is offer of something free during the negotiations. Usually it is something so tempting and perceived to be harmless. The offer of free things is a tactical mind. It is designed to lower your guard, distract you as it were, while the other party goes for what they really wanted all along. The moment you accept the free offer, you have ceded ground to the other party and they will punish you for it.

Why Are Free Things So Alluring Anyway?

At the negotiating table, you have a lot at stake. Every side is looking for any advantage they might get to get one over on the other person. To negotiate effectively, one has to be really focused the entire time. When the prospect of a free deal comes up, the temptation is to go find out more about. In a sense, the free item is a diversion that is very tempting to fall for. In most cases all us do, at some point.

Free things are appealing, first of all, because they connote an easy win. In hardline negotiations where parties do not move an inch until one of them concedes, the offer something free is often used to soften positions. In the receiver’s mind, the free thing mean that their stance on issues is working. They have got an easy win and can loosen up their stances.

Another reason is that something free requires zero-effort to get. In tough negotiations, a lot of energy is spent digging in on tough positions. This can take a toll on the negotiators both physically and psychologically. When an offer of getting something with zero-effort is floated, they eventually consider and some even take it.

Finally, the allure of getting something for nothing is just too much to pass up. In a nutshell, free concessions mean that the party receiving them will not have to use any of their resources to obtain it.

Staying Grounded During Negotiations And Avoiding Free Things

Friedrich Nietzsche remarked that the value of something cannot be gauged by what one does with it, but what it costs them. In other words, the price of what you want translates to its worth. Most of us look at the effects of having something and if its obtained freely, all the better for them. As a budding negotiator, always look at the angles. You need to know what the person is angling at. Try to think forward as much as possible to anticipate any and all problems that might arise from what is obtained for free. This way you can call out the individual offering that free concession for being duplicitous in their actions.

You must avoid getting carried away by the allure of the free thing. It will only distract you from the real prize of the negotiations which will be getting your own way in the end. That is all that matters. Always keep your eyes on the big picture, forget the brush strokes, so to speak.

Below are the key things that will keep you grounded as you look for the main prize during your negotiations.

Look At The Intents Behind That Offer

Why is this person giving me this concession for free? What is his or her endgame? You must try to ferret out the intents behind the proposition. Usually most free offers are a distraction from the thing that the other person truly wants from the negotiation. Find out what it is, and leverage it to get what you want. At the end of it, you are basically looking for something of value. Some free concessions, though magnanimous are devoid of any true value.

What Do The Parties Stand To Gain From The Acceptance Of The Offer?

The moment that free offer comes across your desk for scrutiny, you need to think about the motivations and rewards for the parties involved. There is always more than meets the eye. Some parties might push you to accede to the offer quickly and you need to find why that is the case. It could be a red herring, distracting you from behind the scenes. Fight against the temptation to accept it. You could be set up for to pay something later on. Avoid such an entanglement for your own good.

Always Suspect The Timing

By now, you could be kicking yourself for being so paranoid about the other party’s intentions. Do not! While you are negotiating, all loyalties need to be cast aside in order to maintain clarity about the real reason you are seated at the negotiating table. Always question the timing of a new offer. The last thing you want to be is distracted while some underhanded things are taking place behind your back.

What Are Your Concessions

Finally you need to know what you are really giving up. Nothing is truly free during negotiations. The beauty is that by getting something for free is that you have something of value that the other person wants. Find out what it is and leverage it for the win. Make your own free concession but make a huge deal for parting with it.